The Final Destinies of the City of God and the Earthly City – part 3

Last time, we ended with the saints entering the threshold of eternal bliss with their Creator, and the citizens of the earthy city entering their own new domain – the city of the devil. 

“…and they will come out – those who did good things [will come out] to a resurrection of [new] life, but those who did evil things [will come out] to a resurrection of judgment [that is, to be sentenced].” Jn. 5:29 AMP

“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Mt. 13:41 – 43. NASB

“Then these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment, but those who are righteous and in right standing with God [will go, by His remarkable grace] into eternal (unending) life.” Mt. 25:26 AMP

So, regardless of what many people want to believe, (that there is no hell, no consequences for sin), here is the validation of the truth – right out of the mouth of our Savior.

We see that the punishment is permanent. We also know that the unbelievers / willfully rebellious will suffer everlasting retribution in their bodies, which cannot be registered unless the owner of that body is contiguous with his or her soul. Therefore, whatever the nature of their corrupted bodies, they can suffer their penal wounds and yet remain sustainable. That is truly hell.

“If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] Mk. 9:43, 44. AMP

You see now, the urgency that we, as Christ’s followers, have in sounding the alarm to the unbelievers – to show them the way to salvation. 

Many unbelievers and lukewarm Christians would protest, saying that an all-loving God could not produce such a hell. Ironically, they are right, but not in the way you might suspect. Satan perverted his environment and God banished him to it, as well as those who choose to follow in his footsteps.

And the devil who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and burning brimstone (sulfur), where the beast (Antichrist) and false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rv. 20:10 AMP 

These same doubters may again profess opposition to what they think is the ‘unfairnesses’ of the eternal aspect of this punishment. There are a couple of things to consider. First, there will be no time. Thus, the length of the sentence of the punished, will not be able to be discerned. Two, and most importantly, God has warned all of humankind since the beginning of their presence on earth, of this outcome, should they steadfastly reject him. Moreover, He gave each of them a lifetime to come around.

…he who destroyed in himself a good which might have been eternal, became worthy of eternal evil…for he who at first gave entrance to sin has been punished with all his posterity who were in him as in a root, so that no one is exempt from this just and due punishment, unless delivered by mercy and undeserved grace… – St. Augustine 

Moreover, God must keep His word, in order to maintain His truth.

Whoever, therefore, desires to escape eternal punishment, let him not only be baptized, but also justified in Christ, and so let him in truth pass from the devil to Christ. – St. Augustine

Thank God that His children in the eternal city of God have a far different destiny…

That destiny begins with having God Himself in their presence. 

Your dead will live; their dead bodies will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy! For your dew is a dew of [celestial] light [heavenly, supernatural], and the earth will give birth to the spirits of the dead. Is. 26:19 AMP

“Now at that [end] time Michael, the great [angelic] prince who stands guard over the children of your people will arise…at the time your people, everyone who is found written in the Book [of Life], will be rescued. Dan. 12:1 AMP

‘…the saints (believers) of the Most High [God] will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.’ Dan. 7:18 AMP

How are we going to be when we enter heaven on earth?

“…not a hair of your head will be lost.” LK. 21:18 NKJV

…we all reach unity of faith and of the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Eph. 4:13 CSB

…He was conformed to us by assuming mortality, we shall be conformed to Him by immortality… St. Augustine

…equal to the angels in immortality and happiness… St. Augustine

…deformity shall perish… St. Augustine

In the city of God, we are complete, whole, happy and immortal. It doesn’t matter what happened to your earthly body: buried in the ground, cremated, eaten by a bear, etc. God gives you an immortal, incorruptible body. We were condemned on earth due to Adam’s sin, but in our eternal house, we are made ultimately clean by the blood of Jesus:

…it is sown a natural body [mortal, suited to earth], it is raised a spiritual body [immortal, suited to heaven]. As surely as there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:44 AMP

Our new body is vibrant and healthy – physically and mentally, and it is subject to the spirit, no longer given to sin. Even our free will won’t go there, thank God.

When this promise is fulfilled, what shall we be? What blessings shall we receive in that kingdom, since already we have received as the pledge of them Christ’s dying? In what condition shall the spirit of man be, when it has no longer any vice at all; when it neither yields to any, nor is in bondage to any, nor has to make war against any, but is perfected and enjoys undisturbed peace with itself? Shall it not then know all things with certainty, and without any labor or error, when unhindered and joyful it drinks the wisdom of God at the fountainhead? What shall the body be, when it is in every respect subject to the spirit, from which it shall draw a life so sufficient, as to strand in need of no the nutriment? For it shall no longer be animal, but spiritual, having indeed the substance of flesh, but without any fleshly corruption. – St. Augustine

And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Phil. 4:7 AMP 

At total peace, filled with the knowledge and love of God:

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. 1 Cor. 13:9, 10. AMP

For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]. 1 Cor. 13:12 AMP

And, we’ll get to meet Jesus!

Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. 1 Jn. 3:2 AMP

Doesn’t that just fill you with awesome expectation? 

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.” Mt. 5:8 AMP

Are you getting excited yet? 

And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of HIs glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people)… Eph. 1:18 AMP

How great shall be that felicity, which shall be tainted with no evil, which shall lack no good, and which shall afford leisure for the praises of God, who shall be all in all!  St. Augustine 

And, there will be gifts / honors bestowed upon everyone in accordance to their good deeds. 

There shall be the great Sabbath which has no evening…There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. Thais is what shall be in the end without end. St. Augustine

Finally, we get with the Father and the Son – forever:

…when all things are subjected to Him (Christ), then the Son Himself will also be subjected to the One (the Father) who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all [manifesting His glory without any opposition, the supreme indwelling and controlling factor of life]. 1 Cor. 15:28 AMP

Such a wonder awaits. Spread the news…

This marks the end of our 5-month journey through the City of God, written by St. Augustine of Hippo, and translated by Marcus Dods. I hope that our excursion through this deeper theology has brought you value.  

Goodnight and God bless. 

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The Final Destinies of the City of God and the Earthly City – part 2

Since the beginning of the commingled history of these two cities, God has judged the citizenry – beginning with Adam and Eve. This continual judgment could have been avoided had the citizens adhered to the word of God. But alas, we have human weakness and a proclivity towards self-indulgence:

…no man acts rightly save by the assistance of divine aid; and no man or devil acts unrighteously save by the permission of the divine and most just judgment. – St. Augustine

‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jer. 29:11 AMP

God’s plan is bigger than we can fully comprehend. We see some good people live difficult lives while we also witness many of dubious character live lives of wealthy excess with a continual satiation of sinful appetites – where it seems that no apparent penalty is being applied. 

In spite of what looks like an unresolved imbalance, (which somehow fits into God’s design), at the end of all present things, God has wondrous things in store for His children in the city of God, of whom all receive His promised eternal rewards:

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to HIs plan and purpose. Rm. 8:28 AMP

So, regardless of our difficulties in this earthly life, we must do our best to stay on Jehovah’s path:

…in these days of vanity it makes an important difference whether he resists or yields to the truth, and whether he is destitute of true piety of a partaker of it – important not so far as regards the acquirement of the blessings or the evasion of the calamities of this transitory and vain life, but in connection with the future judgment which shall make over to good men good things, and to bad men band things…For whosever has real existence is this, is a keeper of God’s commandments; and he who is not this, is nothing. For so long as he means in the likeness of vanity, he is not renewed in the image of the truth… – St. Augustine

When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, of this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil. Eccl. 12:13, 14. AMP

To better understand that end, we must visit the events in the book of Revelation. Accordingly, however you view the concept of the ‘rapture,’ there will be a time when many of God’s children will be sequestered from the tumultuous events during the tribulations. In addition, there will be some holdouts that come to salvation through Christ as that time.

Thus, the city of God, (which we must remember is also the ‘kingdom of God’, exists in the present, but has its full realization at the end of time), is co-existing with the city of the earth during the tribulations. 

The resurrection of the ‘two witnesses’ signals the end of the tribulations, and the last chance for any of the city of the earth to change citizenship is then lost…

Following will be the ‘first resurrection,’ that is when the elders, the dead and still living saints, the Jewish converts to Christ, the ‘great multitude’ and the two witnesses come to reign with Christ on the earth for 1000 years

Note that nations are still existing on the earth (those unbelievers that managed to escape death during the tribulations – still having babies). All other dead unbelievers will stay dead during this ‘millennium.’  So, in effect, the city of God is again co-habituating this earth with the living remnant of the citizens of the city of the earth, all of whom are existing in their ‘soul state.’

During this 1000-year period, remember that the devil is bound up with the rebel angels in the abyss. (Rv. 20:1-3). And so, he has no direct influence in this time.

Thus, all without exception, were dead in sins, whether original or voluntary sins, sins of ignorance, or sins committed against knowledge; and for all the dead there died the only person who lived, that is, who had no sin whatever, in order that those who live by the remission of their sins should live, not to themselves, but to Him who died for all, for our sins, and rose again for our justification, that we believing in Him who justifies the ungodly, and being justified from ungodliness or quickened from death, may be able to attain to the first resurrection which now is. 

For in this first resurrection none have a part save those who shall be eternally blessed; but in the second, of which He goes on to speak, all, as we shall learn, have a part, both the blessed and the wretched. The one is the resurrection of mercy, the other of judgment. – St. Augustine (see Jn. 5:28,29.)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love… Col. 1:13 NKJV

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such, the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Rv. 20:6 NKJV

After the 1000 years have elapsed, the devil is loosed, whereupon he seduces those outside of the church to make war against Christ and His followers. Thank God, the devil and his minions lose this final battle in a big way and are devoured by divine fire.

We have now come to the end of time, the day of the LORD, judgment day. Those citizens of the now eternal city of God are not subject to a ‘second resurrection,’ but enter into their eternal promise with their new immortal, incorruptible bodies, living on a new earth, resting in new heavens, in the city of God, New Jerusalem, which has come down from heaven.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not come to mind. Be glad and rejoice in whatever I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” Is. 65:17 – 19. NKJV

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed like a bride adorned for her husband; and then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them [as their God,] and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Rv. 21:2 – 5. AMP

Now they themselves, when they have been purified, shall be sacrifices of complete and perfect righteousness; for what more acceptable offering can such persons make to God than themselves? – St. Augustine

Unfortunately, those who have steadfastly rejected the Father and the Son, are resurrected for a second time – to judgment, damned to the ‘second death.’ They do not get incorruptible bodies, but rise with bodies that are changed in such a way that they cannot truly die, but must suffer eternal anguish:

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me” – this is the LORD’s declaration – “so you offspring and your name will remain. All mankind will come to worship me…they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.” Is. 66:22 – 24. CSB

Yes, this is the final judgment, where everyone meets Jesus:

For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment [that is, the prerogative of judging] to the Son [placing it entirely into His hands]… Jn. 5:22 AMP

It is at this point that the two cities are finally separated into two distinct final destinies: the city of God to heaven on earth, and the city of earth (now the city of the devil), to Satan’s damnation. How does that look? We’ll take a look see next time…

Goodnight and God bless. 

The Final Destinies of the City of God and the Earthly City

Thus, begins the wind-up for St. Augustine’s City of God, translated by Marcus Dods. St. Augustine first describes the framework in which this discussion lies:

…by the end of good, we at present mean, not that by which good is destroyed, so that it no longer exists, but that by which it is finished, so that it becomes complete; and by the end of evil we mean, not that which abolishes it, but that which completes its development. These two ends, therefore are the supreme good and the supreme evil…

From the viewpoint of the city of God, the supreme good is represented by eternal life, and the supreme evil by eternal death. To have the former and avoid the latter, we must live according to God’s ways. Yet, we often fall short, and so we turn to the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ, and petition Him for forgiveness and for HIs strength that we may increase our alignment with Him:

…we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises] – 2 Cor. 5:7 AMP

Out of that strength, we build upon the virtues we acquire through godly living, so as to do our best to overcome the temptations of vice:

I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Phil. 4:13 AMP

Still, until Christ’s return, the devil will not relent; and so, strength and discernment will be required until we make our heavenly transition, whereupon evil will not exist in the city of God. So then, we can say that our ultimate happiness will be realized in our salvation, vivified in incorruptible flesh that is not given into sin, but represents our heavenly suit, in which we live out our eternal joy and peace.

And our city is none other then the New Jerusalem, (‘Jerusalem’ can be translated as ‘vision of peace’):

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. Ha makes peace in your borders… Ps. 147:12 – 14. ESV

“…the name of the city of my God – the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God…” Rv. 3:12 CSB

Peace between man and God is the well-ordered obedience of faith to eternal law. Peace between man and man is well-ordered concord. Domestic peace is the well-ordered concord between those of the family who rule and those who obey. Civil peace is a similar concord among the citizens. The peace of the celestial city is the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God. – St. Augustine

We can also take comfort in the deaths of our loved ones who took Jesus at His word, knowing that they will be waiting for us.

Whereas, those unfortunate inhabitants of the earthly city have only demonic oppression and eternal punishment in their future (as a result of their rebellious wills):

For he who laments the peace his nature has lost is stirred to do so by some relics of peace which make his nature friendly to itself. And it is very just that in the final punishment the wicked and godless should in anguish bewail the loss of the natural advantages they enjoyed, and should perceive that they were most justly taken from them by that God whose benign liberality they had despised. – St. Augustine

What do we do to stay ready for our transition? We must live by two rules:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt. 22:37 – 39. CSB

During this time, we will still be confronted by evil. Thankfully, we can call upon our Savior to fight that fight, and help us see the purpose in it:

For even when we wage a just war, our adversaries must be sinning; and every victory, even though gained by wicked men, is a result of the first judgment of God, who humbles the vanquished either for the sake of removing or of punishing their sins.

To be innocent, we must not only do harm to no man, but also restrain him from sin to punish his sin, so that either the man himself who is punished may profit by his experience, or others be warned by his example. – St. Augustine

We are blessed to be citizens of the city of God, waiting for our assured eternal blessing. We keep our focus on that, so that we can better endure the trials of this broken world. Our city stands against the city of the earth, as our focus and thinking are diametrically opposed; so, we will suffer persecution for our faith.

Still, we keep calling out to all people, inviting them to our city, to join us in our pilgrimage. We are helping God fill His book of Life by ascribing to a heavenly balance:

No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget in his own ease the service due his neighbor; nor has any man a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God. – St. Augustine

The best we can do on this earth is to try to make our lives a ‘living prayer’ to our God, and keep our joy centered on our eternal city, wherein lies our supreme good.

Those who choose to remain in the citizenry of the city of earth will experience the ‘second death,’ where their souls are eternally separated from their Creator, their bodies subject to pain, and there shall be no end to it.

For those who love God, we have a far far better fate…

Next time.

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 6

King David’s allotted time on the city of the earthborn was passed. He now lives in the city of God. Before his death, he handed his kingdom over to his son, Solomon.

There are only 2 psalms attributed to Solomon in the book of the same name. One is messianic:

In His days the righteous shall flourish, and the abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth…all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him…His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him… Ps. 72:7 & 11. NKJV

Always, our champions from the city of God are laying out Jehovah’s hope for salvation, so as to attract as many as possible to the kingdom of heaven.

Unfortunately, like his father, King Solomon also fell into sin, whereby his many wives led him away from God. In addition, Solomon also let his extreme wealth corrupt him. (1 Kin. 11:1 – 13).

God told him that his punishment would be levied against his son, upon Solomon’s death, whereby the country of Israel would become bitterly divided.

Yet before Solomon died, he again realized that God was indeed the source of all joy, happiness, peace and sustenance; and he returned to be in right-standing with Him. (See book of Ecclesiastes).

After Solomon’s demise, Israel split into ‘Israel’ in the north, and ‘Judah’ in the south. Eventually, both countries would fall into a sin-infected morass. All of Israel’s kings were wicked, as was most of Judah’s. As a result of these rebellions against God, Israel was given up to total conquest and slavery to the Assyrians; and not long after, Judah was given up to the Babylonians.

Yet God, in His limitless love, sent sixteen prophets to them, to try to turn them back to His ways. Indeed, St. Augustine adroitly describes the common message – both for HIs children with regards to the application for their present time, and its relevance for what’s at stake for their future:

…by going forward in the living God, by the steps of faith, which works by love, we must flee out of the city of this world, which is altogether a society of ungodly angels and men. Yes, the greater we see the power of the demons to be in these depths, so much the more tenaciously must we cleave to the Mediator through whom we ascend from these lowest to the highest places.

…demons can accomplish nothing by their natural power…except what He may permit, whose judgments are often hidden, but never unrighteous. …demons…do not create real substances, but only change the appearances of things created by the true God so as to make them seem to be what they are not. 

That is, we must live in God’s ways, by faith, claiming the city of God from His grace, and cleave unto Christ as He brings us out of the illusions of the puppet master behind the city of the earth.

God loves us so much, that He never leaves anything to chance. As was mentioned above, God sent prophets, both while Israel and Judah were wallowing in sinful rebellion and while they were in captivity – a period of over 400 years, to try to save His children. We can see God’s love and care in His words to them as He continues to proffer His message of hope:

“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass where it was said to them, You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’ Hos. 1:10 NKJV

Here then, the prophet Hosea is recalling / reminding / validating the Abrahamic covenant to the people of Israel about the global propagation of the seed of Abraham, their trials due to their rebellion, and then their ultimate restoration – when God gathers all His children from around the globe to be one people in the city of God.

Afterward the sons of Israel will return [in deep repentance] and seek the LORD their God and seek [from the line of] David their king [the King of kings – the Messiah]; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness and blessing in the last days. Hos. 3:5 AMP

Ultimately, everyone will come to Jesus.

“Come and let us return [in repentance] to the LORD, for He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.” Hos. 6:1, 2. AMP

God must let us suffer some the consequences of our free-will actions / thoughts of sin. Yet, all He wants for us, is to come before Him and get in right relationship again. See too the parallel between the third day and the resurrection of our Savior.

“In that day I shall raise up and restore the fallen tabernacle (booth) of David, and wall up its breaches [in the city walls]; I will also raise up and restore its ruins and rebuild it as it was in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom (ancient enemies) and all the nations that are called by My name.” Amos 9:11, 12. AMP

Amos was a contemporary prophet in Israel to Hosea. We see here the promised restoration of the city of God, which includes the children of God throughout the world – gathered to HIs throne.

Jonah too, was a contemporary of Hosea. In his case, it was not so much what he said, as it was his story of being captured 3 days ‘under the earth’ in the belly of the great fish and being delivered, that is another parallel to Christ’s death and resurrection.

Unfortunately, the people of Israel turned a deaf ear to all of these prophets, and were summarily punished by the Assyrian conquest and exile…

Before those 3 prophets began their prophecies, the prophet Joel preached to the country of Judah:

“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 NASB

This began at Pentecost, at the gathering of the first church – ushering in the modern church age, equipping the children of God to go forth and gather souls for the kingdom.

Just after Jonah’s time, the prophet Micah began prophesying in Judah:

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all – the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.

People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways and we will walk in his paths”…They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Mic. 4:1 – 3. NLT

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity”…And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. Mic. 5:2 & 4. NASB

700 years before Christ is incarnated, we are given these blessing of hope – of a unified heaven on earth with our blessed Savior at the helm, as well as telling us of Jesus’ very birthplace for His coming!

The prophet Isaiah was a contemporary of Micah. His Holy Spirit-inspired prophetic revelations are uncannily accurate:

Indeed, My Servant (the Messiah) will act wisely and prosper; He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted…So He will sprinkle many nations [with His blood, providing salvation], Kings will shut their mouths because of Him; for what they had not been told they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand. Is. 52:13 & 15. AMP

For He [the servant of God] grew up before Him like a tender shoot (plant), and like a root out of dry ground; He has no stately form or majestic splendor that we would look at Him…He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief…But [in fact] He has borne our griefs, and He has carried our sorrows and pains…wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]…and by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. Is. 53:2 – 5. AMP

All of us like sheep have god astray, we have turned, each one, to his own way; but the LORD has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing] to fall on Him [instead of us].

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth [to complain or defend Himself]; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter…He was cut off from the land of the living [by His death] for the transgression of My people…He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. Yet the LORD was willing to crush Him, causing Him to suffer; if He would give Himself as a guilt offering [an atonement for sin]…As a result of the anguish of His soul, He shall see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge [of what He has accomplished] the Righteous One, My Servant, shall justify the many [making them righteous – upright before God, in right standing with Him], for He shall her [the responsibility for] their sins. Is. 53:7 – 11. AMP

I have to stop now before this post becomes a novella. It’s just that God’s plan is so awe-inspiring, the depths of the love of He and His Son so unfathomable, and the hope so grand, it makes you want to get on your knees and thank and bless Jehovah God and Jesus Christ for what they have laid before us – this remarkable, incredible sacrifice of love, so that we might take residence in the city of God…

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 4

Approximately 225 years had elapsed since the passing since our last godly champion, Joshua, walked the earth. In that timespan, the nation of Israel had again distanced themselves from following God. Even the priesthood was corrupted. Furthermore, the Philistines were continually assaulting the Israelites.

God decided again to help His children move forward on the path that He had intended for them:

There was a woman by the name of Hannah, (meaning ‘His grace’), whom God had kept barren (1 Sam. 1:6) until she went to the temple in Shiloh to pray, whereupon she petitioned Jehovah for a son. She promised Him that if He were to grant her request, she would dedicate him to the priesthood once he was weaned.

She and her husband conceived, and named the boy Samuel, meaning ‘name of God.’ As she pledged, she brought the boy to the temple at the appointed time. We hear no more about Hannah except for the prayer that she uttered after she had delivered her son to the priest, Eli. However, if we dissect her prayer, we can see that Jehovah imbued this blessed servant woman of God with a plethora of revelations and prophecy within that prayer that she herself could not have known:

1 Sam. 2:1 – 10. AMP:

“My heart rejoices and triumphs in the LORD; my horn (strength) is lifted up in the LORD, my mouth has opened wide [to speak boldly] against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.

There is no one holy like the LORD, there is no one besides You, there is no rock like our God.

[I’m going to elicit a little help from St. Augustine of Hippo’s book City of God, (translated by Marcus Dods), and some additional scripture, for some additional investigative discourse. I’m 3/4 the way through this 781-page book. I hope you have derived some value from what we’ve examined from that work.]

Through her prayer, we see that Hannah knows her spiritual strength comes from God alone; and she looks prophetically forward to His salvation (through Christ).

Do not go on boasting so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed (examined).

God, speaking through her, warns of being haughty, self-absorbed, and confident in one’s own strength. We are only exalted when we venerate our Maker:

(For if anyone thinks he is something [special] when [in fact] he is nothing [special except in his own eyes], he deceives himself. Gal. 6:3 AMP)

The bows of the mighty are broken, but those who have stumbled equip themselves with strength.

This same warning is also directed toward the enemies of God’s children, wherein He declares that the prideful with be humbled, whereas the meek shall be fortified.

Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry cease [to hunger]. Even the barren woman gives birth to seven, but she who has many children withers away.

We see too that God’s people were starving for spiritual sustenance (often self-induced) but will ultimately be fed when that perfect (‘seven’) Child is born.

The LORD puts to death and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol (the grave) and raises up [from the grave].

Hannah’s prayer also prophesied about how God helps us put our old sinful self to death through the salvation of His Son, which saves us from the grave:

(Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead]…you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:1 & 3. AMP)

The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and He lifts up.

He raises up the poor from the dust, He lifts up the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and to inherit a seat of honor and glory; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He set the land on them.

And again, we are reminded of the importance of being humble, in order to be elevated to the city of God:

(…GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD [the disdainful, the presumptuous, and He defeats them], BUT HE GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time… 1 Pt. 5:5, 6. AMP)

He guards the feet of His godly (faithful) ones, but the wicked ones are silenced and perish in darkness; for a man shall not prevail by might.

We also see that the godly will be divided from the wicked:

(For we [believers will be called to account and] must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives – the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities]. 2 Cor. 5:10 AMP)

Still, we are judged and sent to the city of God. Those who chose to occupy the city of the earthborn will experience a judgment with only one outcome – eternal damnation.

The adversaries of the LORD will be broken to pieces; He will thunder against them in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to HIs king, and will exalt the horn (strength) of His anointed.” 1 Sam. 2:1 – 10. AMP

Hannah ends her prayer with a prophetic picture of Christ’s ascension, to render the final judgment. It is here too, that we see for the first time in the Bible, the identification of the Messiah as ‘King.’

Mind you, God rendered these revelations 1000 years before Jesus was incarnated.

Hannah too, is a citizen of the city of God. We’ll meet Samuel, the prophet and king-maker, next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 3

In parts one and two, we looked at the age-old battle on earth between those who follow God (grouped together as the ‘city of God’) and those who follow the adversary (grouped as the ‘city of the earthborn’), as described by St. Augustine of Hippo from his book The City of God.

We have been looking at valiant men throughout history who reflected Jehovah’s strength, resolve and faith, that we might be inspired to be likewise, and to inspire others after we gain our own citizenship in the city of God.

The renown citizens of the city of God that we’ve examined thus far have been Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham and his son Isaac. Note than all of them are included in the ancestral lineage of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Continuing, Isaac and his wife Rebekah conceive of fraternal twins, Esau (born first), and Jacob. Before they were born, it appeared the two boys battled within the womb. Concerned, Rebekah inquired of God and He answered:

“Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” Gn. 25:23 NKJV

Esau sold his birthright to Jacob over a bowl of stew, to satisfy a craving of the flesh. Afterwards, he began to hold enmity towards Jacob. When Esau was in his 40s, he married pagan wives to spite his parents.

Later, Rebekah colluded with Jacob to deceive his father Isaac into conferring his family blessing upon Jacob instead of Esau. Enraged, Esau plotted to kill his brother, but Rebekah found out and sent Jacob away to her brother’s house to escape, and to find a Hebrew wife. During Jacob’s journey, he camps for an evening, and God visits him in a dream:

And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching the sky, and God’s angels were going up and down on it. The LORD was standing there beside him, saying, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Gn. 28:12 – 15. CSB

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.” Gn. 28:16, 17. CSB

So, we see that God has chosen Jacob as the next link in His perpetual seed for the Messiah and has granted him citizenship in the city of God.

Esau, on the other hand, rebelled, landing him citizenship in the city of the earthborn. He would later establish the nation of Edom (modern-day southwestern Jordan), which often played the villain to Israel, until it was destroyed by King Nabonidus of Babylon.

Jacob would later marry two sisters and (along with each of their handmaidens), conceive 12 sons and a daughter. God would then change his name from Jacob (meaning ‘deceiver’) to Israel (Hebrew for ‘God prevails’), demonstrating his godly transformation.

Many years later, Israel and his entire Hebrew entourage (family, friends, servants) would come to Egypt and settle there with his son Joseph (another mighty man of faith who prevailed against insurmountable odds because of God’s intervention – a grand pair of godly shoulders to stand upon), to grow the Hebrew nation into thousands.

Just before his death, Israel blessed his sons. We’ll look at his son Judah’s blessing, as it is the most pertinent to our study:

“Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you…The scepter [of royalty’ shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Gn. 49:8 & 10. AMP

Israel’s 12 sons would form 12 tribes, after each namesake; and Judah would be the leader. Furthermore, we see that Christ will be a descendant from the tribe of Judah as well.

Leaping ahead 400 years, we find the Hebrews in the middle of an Egyptian oppression. God sends a very reluctant prophet, Moses, (who was divinely spared from death as an infant, and as a man, while he was first in Egypt), back there to be His instrument of liberation to His children.

God works His miracles through Moses so that the Pharaoh lets the Hebrews leave Egypt. Moses leads the people across the ‘wilderness’ towards the promised land in the face of a very unappreciative, jealous, and sometimes blasphemous people – he, all the while, being molded into a strong, faithful, godly leader. God even entrusted Him (with the Holy Spirit) to write the first 5 books of the Old Testament – giving us the ability to see who and what God is.

When Moses brought the children of the children of God to the border of the promised land, God most lovingly buried him in the city of God.

God then commissioned Joshua to bring His children across the Jordan River into the promised land:

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua…Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” Josh. 1:1 – 3 & 5. NKJV

Joshua kept God’s word, renews God’s covenant with the people, conquers the majority of Canaan, and settles the people in their new promised land of Israel. And in his last address before his death, he said:

“…be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses…hold fast to the LORD your God…” Josh. 23:6 & 8. NKJV

Just like he did. He too was a citizen of the city of God…

After this, the Israelites, (in their human fashion), half-heartedly vacillated between faith and rebellion, until God gave them over to the fruits of their own disobedience:

The word of the LORD was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread. 1 Sam. 3:1 AMP

But God loves us so much, He never gives up – as we will see, when He lights the torch of love again through the prophet Samuel – Next time.

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders

Ever since Adam and Eve were created, there began a battle between good and evil. Adam and Eve were created perfect, purely righteous, and immortal. Eve was deceived by the cunning wiles of the devil; but Adam committed the bigger sin, as he both knew better, yet went along, regardless of God’s warning.

 As we know, Adam’s seed was corrupted, and it spread throughout all the generations of humankind. Adam and Eve lost their immortality and would have also suffered an eternal demise, except that God provided an atonement for them through the first animal sacrifice.

 God was already at work to ensure the availability of salvation for all His children – past, present and future. Being that God doesn’t violate the free will, mankind, throughout the ages fell into two camps: those people who refused God’s ways and decided to go it alone (referred to as the city of men, city of the earth, earthly Jerusalem, by St. Augustine) and those who did their best to walk in God’s ways (city of God, heavenly Jerusalem).

 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved… Ps. 46:4, 5. AMP

 …in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever. Ps. 48:8 NKJV

 His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more that all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, of city of God! Ps. 87:1 – 3. NKJV

 …you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Heb. 12:22 – 24. NKJV

 This division between good and evil began with Cain and Abel; and we are left with no uncertainty as to which camp they each belonged:

 …we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. 1 Jn. 3:11, 13. NKJV (Even though God told Cain how to do the right thing, he rebelled, and sin became his master.)

 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which it was testified of him that he was righteous (upright, in right standing with God), and God testified by accepting his gifts. And though he died, yet through [this act of] faith he still speaks. Heb. 11:4 AMP

And so, it is Abel’s godly shoulders upon which you have your first foundation. A man, who like Cain, was corrupted with Adam’s ‘original sin,’ yet he, by his faith in God, and in his obedience, had righteousness conveyed upon him. Cain, instead, decided to wallow in his sin, and like Eve, made room for the devil.

 Abel was the first biblically recorded citizen of the city of God, the place whereby we gain our eternal citizenship through the grace of God. Conversely, Cain was the first citizen of the city of the earth, whose sole requirement is unrepentant sin. Obviously, the two cities stand in stark contrast to each other.

 The evil always hate the good, because goodness in others reminds them of their baseness. Moreover, the evil of the city of earth reflects its citizens – filled with strife, jealousies, and pain.

 The city of God is a city of peace, because God is there:

 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14 CSB

 The descendants of Cain terminated in the great flood and the city of the earth was no more. Conversely, Adam’s third son, Seth, was the next in line for the city of God and we can see that when he had a son, his fellow citizens began carrying the light:

 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD. Gn. 4:26 CSB

 However, with time, all of the descendants living at the time of the flood must have switched their citizenry to carnality – save only the one remaining righteous Noah*, and his family. Thank the Lord that He gave us a second chance to keep sending citizens to the city of God. He is a loving and just God:

 The anger of God is not a disturbing emotion of His mind, but a judgment by which punishment is inflicted upon sin. His thought and reconsideration also are the unchangeable reason which changes things; for He does not, like man, repent of anything He has done, because in all matters His decision is as inflexible as His prescience is certain. – St. Augustine

 *Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Gn. 6:9 NKJV

 For more than a thousand years after the flood, there is no scriptural account of anyone singled out for seeking God. We can’t assume that there weren’t, but apparently there was no one who stood out for their zeal.

 It is at this point where we meet a giant set of godly shoulders – those of Abraham’s….  Next time.

Goodnight and God bless.

Journey to Heaven – part 3

In examining our greatest divine promise, that is, a successful journey to heaven, we also looked at some of the barriers that must be overcome to complete that pilgrimage; e.g. a rebellious will that opposes God (see part. 1). Let’s look at another very similar barrier, which is ‘living by the flesh.’ And again, we’ll use some of St. Augustine’s scriptural insights from his book The City of God, to elucidate its meaning.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these…those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19 – 21. ESV

For among the works of the flesh which he (Paul) said were manifest, and which he cited for condemnation, we find not only those which concern the pleasures of the flesh as fornication…drunkenness, but also those which, though they may be remote from fleshly pleasure, reveal the vices of the soul…idolatries, witchcraft…hatreds…envying…For it is quite possible for a man to abstain from fleshly pleasures for the sake of idolatry or some heretical error; and yet, even when he does so…he is living after the flesh – St. Augustine

What our venerable theologian is driving at, is that we do have a corruptible body due to the propagation of Adam’s original sin, but, that that is not the true nature of the body, which was created in perfection. So, the deduction is that sin in not caused by the flesh but is from the free-will of the soul – choosing to give into the desires of the flesh and of soul’s other God-Contrarian desires.

Furthermore, owing to the source of the corruption of the flesh, that corruption must consist as a punishment for (Adam’s) sin, but not the originator of our sin. Many sins, as pointed out, are not attributed to the flesh, yet all of them are instigated from the adversary, who, by the way, has no flesh. Thus, it is when man lives by his own dictates, rather than God’s, that he takes on the devil’s sinful nature.

…all sin is a lie. For no sin is committed save by that desire or will by which we desire that it be well with us, and shrink from it being ill with us…but makes us more miserable than we were…because the source of man’s happiness lies only in God, whom he abandons when he sins… St. Augustine

When one lives carnally, they cannot connect with God, or understand Him, because in their disobedience, they have abandoned HIs truth:

But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and the revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters]. 1 Cor. 2:11 – 14. AMP

So, ‘acting carnally’ can be applied to living by the desires of the flesh and / or of the soul. And the soul is directed by the will. It derives joy from fulfilling its desires and expresses fear and or sadness as a response to any experience it does not desire.

In dealing with carnal people, Christians are commanded to apply agape love:

…since no one is evil by nature, but whoever is evil is evil by vice, he who lives according to God out to cherish toward evil men a perfect hatred, so that he shall neither hate the man because of his vice, nor love the vice because of the man, but hate the vice and love the man. – St. Augustine

We’ve all been there. And God is well aware of what we suffer through, having suffered the same temptations in the visage of His Son:

…He became a man when it pleased Him, so, in the grace of His definite purpose, when it pleased Him He experienced those emotions in His human soul. – St. Augustine

For we do not have High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Heb. 4:15 AMP

Praise God for His salvation through Christ, because we all need it:

…he who thinks he lives without sin puts aside not sin, but pardon. – St. Augustine

The only pure goodness in this universe exists within the Godhead, where there is no evil to be found. Conversely, because the nature of ourselves is innately good (disregarding Adam’s corruption), evil cannot exist without that good nature with which it inhabits.

…evil is removed, not by removing any nature, or part of a nature, which had been introduced by the evil, but by healing and correcting that which had been vitiated and depraved. The will, therefore, is then truly free, when it is not the slave of vices and sins. Such was it given us by God; and this being lost by its own fault, can only be restored by Him who was first able to give it. – St. Augustine

If we consider Adam and Eve, we find that our ‘humanness’ directly mirrors their behavior with regards to our relationship with God. Just as we first consider our desire to sin in our will before we commit it, Adam and Eve could not have been different.

Just like them, most if not all of our sins begins with pride, with the desire to satisfy the lust of oneself.

A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down… Pr. 29:23 AMP

Adam and Eve could not have been provoked to try to ‘be like gods,’ had they not first taken in that suggestion and weighed it in their wills, before succumbing to their desire. And so, their sin proceeded their ingestion of the fruit.

We are no different:

By craving to be more, man becomes less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from Him who truly suffices – St. Augustine

For Adam and Eve, the sin didn’t end there. Remember that God came to them after the committed the ‘act’ of sin:

Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Gn. 3:9 NASB

As if God didn’t know. St. Augustine suggests that it was at that point that He was letting Adam know He was separated from them – spiritually. God then questioned them, and they multiplied their sin by trying to lay the blame on someone else: Eve on the serpent, and Adam on Eve and then on God Himself. I believe that God was giving them a chance to confess and repent, but their pride defeated them.

And thus, all our troubles began. Thankfully, our God is gracious and full of lovingkindness. He always has an outstretched arm, to pull the willing back onto that heavenward path.

Next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

Journey to Heaven – part 2

With a little help from the book City of God by St. Augustine, translated by Marcus Dods:

For, though Himself eternal, and without beginning, yet He caused time to have a beginning; and man, whom He had not previously made He made in time, not from a new and sudden resolution, but by His unchangeable and eternal design – St. Augustine

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us before the foundation of the world… Eph. 1:3, 4. NKJV

 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mt. 25:34 AMP

 The reason we’re here is because God chose us, loves us, and we are a part of his eternal plan. We are also the epitome of His design for living beings – the closest to being like Him:

 God then made man in His own image. For He created for him a soul endowed with reason and intelligence, so that he might excel all the creatures of earth, air, and sea, which were not so gifted – St. Augustine.

 It is God’s desire to eternally commune with His children – those, as we saw last time, that align their will with His.

 We are born for a journey to heaven. And as soon as we become aware of our Creator and His salvation plan, we must receive this free gift by accepting His Son as our Savior – followed by doing our best to live as Jesus did.

God planned out who we would be and what kind of life He wanted us to have before we were conceived in the womb. That kind of life is our journey to heaven, the quality of which will be dependent upon our free-will choices. We are born, grow to our physical potential, and then begin a dying process.

However, that process is not one to be feared or to be a source of sadness. It is a progression towards our eternal home – filled with promises of love, joy and peace everlasting. Dying and death are two different things.

When the faithful children of God reach the end of their mortal clock on this earth, they pass through death:

…since you have been set free from sin and have become the [willing] slaves of God, you have your present benefit, resulting in sanctification [being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose, and the outcome [of this] is eternal life. Rm. 6:22 AMP

“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Jn. 8:51 NKJV

 We are blessed.  The death suffered by those who reject God is the polar opposite:

…the human soul is truly affirmed to be immortal…because in a sense, it does not cease to live…while the body is called mortal because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all. The death, then, of the soul takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it….And this death of the whole man is followed by…the second death…For in that penal and everlasting punishment…the soul is justly said to die, because it does not live in connection with God – St. Augustine

The children of God’s version of death is a glorious transition:

Thus, by the unutterable mercy of God, even the very punishment of wickedness has become the armor of virtue, and the penalty of the sinner becomes the reward of the righteous. For then death was incurred by sinning, now righteousness is fulfilled by dying.

Not that death, which was before an evil, has become something good, but only that God has granted to faith this grace, that death, which is the admitted opposite to life, should become the instrument by which life is reached – St. Augustine

…the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Eccl. 7:1 NASB

Precious in  the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Ps. 116:15 NKJV

Again, let’s look at the contrast:

…death is good to the good, and evil to the evil. For the disembodied spirits of the just are at rest; but those of the wicked suffer punishment till their bodies rise again – those of the just to life everlasting, and of the others to death eternal, which is called the second death…of all the evils the worst, since it consists not in the separation of soul and body, but in the uniting of both in death eternal…always in death; and thus never living, never dead, but endlessly dying – St. Augustine

Strong case for being on the side of God, yes? We all have to go through death because of Adam’s original sin, but thanks be to the saving grace of God that as His obedient children, we get to leave that death behind.

Before Adam’s transgression, we weren’t meant to die in any fashion. That was forced upon us by Adam’s disobedience:

…we are subject to the death of the body, not by the law of nature, by which God ordained no death for man, but by His righteous infliction on account of sin; for God, taking vengeance on sin, said to the man, in whom we all then were, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” St. Augustine

Again however, that condition is only transitory for those who accept God through Christ:

…the souls of the just and holy dead live in peaceful rest…and further, that the saints will in the resurrection inhabit those very bodies in which they have here toiled, but in such a sort that neither corruption of unwieldiness be suffered to attach to their flesh…Thus the souls of the departed saints are not affected by the death which dismisses them from their bodies, because their flesh rests in hope – St. Augustine

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… Rm. 6:5 NASB

It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is rated in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 44. NASB

We gain a ‘spiritual’ body because it is one that is finally in total subjection to our spirit. It will be totally self-sufficient and immortal. We will be able to dine on heavenly delicacies, but it won’t be necessary to eat if we don’t want to. No disease, no sorrow, no death – only joy…

Goodnight and God bless.

Journey to Heaven

Still investigating God’s wisdom revealed to St. Augustine in his book, City of God…

How can we help God help us make that journey? Sounds funny doesn’t it? Yet, as much as God wants to help us, He is bound by His own words. If we transgress them, He must allow us to face the consequences until we confess and repent.

Let’s start with the foundation of what we are. St. Augustine described it like this:

For nonentity is the contrary of that which is. And thus there is no being contrary to God, the supreme Being, and Author of all beings whatsoever.

God saw that everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good and He validated it completely. Gn. 1:31 AMP

What does that mean? It means Satan and the angels who followed him were created perfectly, and Adam and Eve were created perfectly. None of these beings had any innate evil within them. Yet they all did evil (sinful) things.

Augustine again: In Scripture they are called God’s enemies who oppose His rule, not by nature…but by their will…

You oppose God by yielding to your free will, in order to languish in the ways of the world that are contrary to God. You make yourself an enemy:

“The hand of God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all who forsake Him.” Ezra 8:22 NASB

Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? James 4:4 NLT

We know that our God is not an angry God as a rule. He is love itself. We encounter His ire when we transgress against Him because He doesn’t want to be separated from us. He knows that when we are, we are killing ourselves.

St. Augustine illustrates this self-destruction thusly:

…the vice which makes those who are called His enemies resist Him, is an evil not to God, but to themselves. And to them it is an evil, solely because it corrupts their good nature…hurt them by depriving them of integrity, beauty, welfare, virtue…

…when the will abandons what is above itself, and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil – not because that is evil to which it turns, but the turning itself is wicked.

…the defection of the will is evil, because it is contrary to the order of nature…and that makes light of the voice of conscience…nothing else that defection from God…

So, we must work on our faith in God. Why? Because if we believed that God’s ways were the better ways, we would not violate them in the first place. We have to cleave to God, place our faith in that our hearts would be far more satisfied by His treasures, than by the temporal and destructive pleasures of our senses and the hungers of our ego.

Worse, these indulgences ultimately cause suffering; and if they continue without repentance, death will ensue – of a permanent variety.

When you are chasing after the world, you are in essence going after other ‘gods.’ You’re transgressing God’s first Commandment:

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Ex. 20:3 NKJV

Instead, cling to the guarantees of our Savior, and abandon independence for a godly dependence upon Jesus, so that you may be bearers of His grace. It is within that grace that your healing will begin, and your Christ-produced heavenly wholeness will be reborn.

Be thankful for God’s grace and He will shore you up to resist temptation, so as to keep your slips off of His path to a minimum:

…in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18 AMP

For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness [to be dedicated, and set apart by behavior that pleases Him, whether in public or private]. So whoever rejects and disregards this is not [merely] rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you [to dwell in you and empower you to overcome temptation]. 1 Thess. 4:7, 8. AMP

Then, your heavenly journey will resume…

Goodnight and God bless.